A new website has recently been launched by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend that focuses on the burden of infertility. Infertilitycross.com premiered appropriately on June 24, the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, who was conceived after many years of Elizabeth and Zechariah’s infertility.
The website, two years in the making, provides a safe and hope-filled resource for those who carry the cross of infertility, says Cindy Black, director of Adult Faith Formation, and member of the team who created the site. “It provides community with others who share their suffering, and offers suggestions for prayer and other possible paths,” she says.
The site’s content, first developed by Natalie Kohrman, past director of the Office of Spiritual Development and Evangelization, and later Megan Swaim, past associate director of Youth Ministry and Black, is specific to the challenges faced by couples that are dealing with infertility. “…This website exists to let couples who are facing infertility know that the Church understands their desire for a child and is here to help them in their struggle. It aims to introduce and explain Church-approved methods for identifying and attempting to treat infertility,” says Kohrman.
Nate Proulx, diocesan media specialist, was instrumental in the technical creation of the videos and the website development. Co-directors of the Office of Family Life Fred and Lisa Everett conducted a final review of the website content, including all of the recommended resources, in the spring before the official launch in June. Lisa says, “Our hope is that this website will help those who struggle with infertility to feel the motherly love of the Church reaching out to them in their suffering.”
Website visitors can find not only an extensive list of recommended resources that include prayers, articles, Church documents, blogs, audio files, links to other websites and books, but also stories of hope from couples who have faced infertility, answers to frequently asked questions and a page specifically designed as a resource for friends and family who want to support a couple dealing with infertility.
The featured resources offer the Church’s teaching on infertility, natural family planning, NaproTechnology, miscarriage, adoption, dealing with suffering and strengthening marriage and more. These teachings are not arbitrary rules, says Black. “Rather, the Church upholds the dignity of every life to be co-created with God in the way He intended — through the one flesh union of husband and wife. As my morality professor taught: human persons in the image of God are to be begotten, not made.” Kohrman agrees, adding that having a child is not a right but a gift from God.
Black says the website sprang from a pastoral need and a hope that couples who have suffered in silence will find that they are not alone. “We recognized that it’s not enough to just inform people of the Church’s teaching on reproductive technologies, we need to show love and compassion to those who long to conceive a child, but are struggling to and may not be able to,” she says, adding, “Infertility is a heavy burden, but Jesus wants to help us carry that cross and even grow closer to Him through it.”
The creative, pastoral team’s hope for the visitors of the site? “I hope that this website is just the beginning of an increase in pastoral outreach and care to couples experiencing infertility,” says Swaim. Korhman agrees saying, “I truly hope that many people will find comfort in times of grief and strength in times of difficulty.”
“My hope is that couples find loving assurance that they can persevere with this cross and even grow closer to Jesus through it. Those who cannot conceive, and do NOT go to any means possible to conceive, are the truest witnesses that babies are a gift, not a right. Children are a gratuitous gift, not a reward,” Black concludes, adding, “In less than 24 hours, I’ve received many messages thanking us for the site, an offer to help in an infertility ministry and a couple wanting to add their story to the site. This tells me that it is a much needed outreach.”
To view the website visit Infertilitycross.com.
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